hat?s happening in your gastrointestinal tract? Now, we have a general idea, but there is increasing evidence that the intestines and microbes that live there play an important role in a wide variety of health problems. Persephone is a biotechnology startup That?s $ 15 million Fate of poop-Builds a library of human microbiota and collects the best list of useful organisms that can do everything from facilitating digestion to fighting serious illnesses.
Democratization of once exclusive and expensive tools such as rapid gene sequencing has fostered a new generation of biotechnology companies and therapeutic approaches. In this case, how different the microbial flora of everyone (a unique set of microorganisms that inhabit inside and outside our body and often perform different tasks for mutual benefit) is different. We are investigating what it means for our health.
Co-founder Stephanie Collar came from a background in genetic research at Genomatica. It worked on producing chemicals, normally supplied from petroleum, by fermenting and modifying bacteria.
?It took five years of genetic engineering and it worked. I was able to create a blueprint for how to manipulate the bacteria,? she said. ?Currently we are doing the same thing using the same tools. However, we used to map one microbe, but now we are using multiple microbes to get an accurate map of the entire intestinal biome. Is being created. ?
Image credit: Persephone Biome
?As we get older, our diet changes, we get sick, we take antibiotics ? and the microbiota begins to disappear,? she continued. ?We are trying to round up all the right microbes. One size fits everything, is trained on the basis of data, and is a consensus set of organisms that everyone needs. New in probiotics. It?s one super pill in the category. ?
It?s a bit more complicated than that, but Culler elaborated on it. Different age groups and conditions may have different needs, but a superhero set will probably be useful (and certainly not harmful) to everyone.
You may be wondering how these differ from the probiotic tablets and drinks that are already there. Well, they may help some people, but the truth is that they aren?t really our local microfauna.
?Many of the things we put on the market are legacy strains discovered over 100 years ago, many of them from milk-based products. These are the actual members of the gut microbiota. No. When we analyzed 150 products, we found only 29 strains that overlapped with a healthy microbial flora, ?Culler said. (And there are no superheroes.)
Compare it with the thousands of candidates they have identified. They are all sourced directly from people, and these days it reflects, among other things, the modern diet. Instead of the creatures that someone found in milk a century ago, you can get the best varieties from real humans.
There are two main methods in Persephone, both of which we hope to happen by the end of next year. The simplest of the two is a probiotic supplement. It is only tested and discovered by the FDA as ?generally accepted as safe?. This is the same designation as any other supplement that suggests general health benefits but has no therapeutic claims to cure anything.
These supplements are initially used for children as more and more babies are born with incomplete gut microbiota due to caesarean section, antibiotics, prescriptions, etc. As much as those things help, they appear to work to damage the intestines-perhaps contributing to a significant increase in allergies, among other things. Liquid probiotic additives in room temperature preserved foods may be the standard additive for new parent baby bags.
Further testing of the infant?s gut biome is needed, and Persephone will announce a major new partnership on infant health and a new national study to help dial this quickly. Fortunately, ?collecting baby poop is very easy,? Color said. If anything, there are too many parent samples.
The company will scale up to the elderly and adults over time, investigating specific applications such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation, and mitigation of other problems that these microorganisms may affect. ..
Another method that Persephone is pursuing in parallel is theorized that microorganisms can be therapeutically applied to the treatment of cancer and enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapeutic agents. This is the type that requires more serious FDA approval throughout clinical trials.
?I want to go to the clinic next year and a half. Mentioning part of the collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Collar said:? Beyond oncology, we are the brain. I am very interested in the intestinal axis. These super bugs [i.e. the superhero microbes, not viruses] It is important for any illness. ?
There is also a new collaboration with Ginkgo Bioworks on new synthetic biotechnology, and ARGONAUT, a large-scale study of the intestinal immune axis looking for biomarkers for the detection and treatment of cancer. Don?t be surprised if you start seeing research with Persephone appearing at some frequency, as there are so many on the company?s plate.
This advance has attracted this $ 15 million seed round, co-led by FirstBight Ventures and Propel BioPartners, with participation from Y Combinator, Fifty Years, Susa Ventures, and the American Cancer Society?s BrightEdge Fund, Pioneer Fund, and Zhen Fund.
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